University of California, Santa Barbara Review (24)


City: Santa Barbara

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: business administration

Study type: Academic gap year

University of California, Santa Barbara Review (24)

After graduating from high school, I wanted to go abroad again before starting my studies in Germany, but I was able to rule out classic gap year variants such as work and travel, regular travel or language schools for me, because I wanted to experience American culture up close and not just countries as “Tourist” wanted to travel. At the same time, I wanted to contribute something significant to my CV and my future academic career. See mcat-test-centers for California State University Monterey Bay.

What convinced me about UCSB was its high reputation and the high academic standard of the UC system, the ideal location in California for trips, the political orientation and mentality of the Californians, as well as the direct location on the Pacific and the beautiful campus.

Application process

Since UCSB does not actually offer an Academic Gap Year, I first contacted the Extension Office directly, which made my application very courteous and uncomplicated. With the help of MicroEdu during the application, I always had quick help with questions that came up, for which I am very grateful. I also had to take a TOEFL test and achieve an absolutely feasible minimum score. Overall, my application process went smoothly thanks to MicroEdu.


In my two quarters at UCSB, I was able to take a total of 6 courses (4 units each). In short, the UCSB enjoys a very good academic reputation, but in my opinion (especially the extension courses) can be managed very well without having to forego a lot of free time. Academic courses (the courses that regularly enrolled Americans take) are usually more difficult to take because you have to “crash” them and they usually involve a higher workload. However, these are helpful for getting to know Americansand get out of your “comfort zone”. Unfortunately I only got one of them. Since I was not yet enrolled at a university, I was able to choose my courses purely based on my interests and can now see whether I can use the course grades in my further studies. I was already familiar with some of the course content, which made a lot of things easier.

Ranking of my chosen courses according to my personal feelings

1. Climate Change Solutions, Professor Quentin Gee (Academic)

Highly interesting course, no final (unusual for academic courses), very personable and highly qualified professor, changes the way of thinking about climate change and shows you new perspectives, solution and problem-oriented, group work with Americans, high workload, online quizzes, with a halfway ambitious attitude very easy to master.

2. and 3. Business and Personal Branding and Business Negotiations, Professor Don Blumenthal (Extension)

In my opinion the best extension professor, interactive, high workload (papers), high fun factor, good performance possible through commitment, in each case a final, serious interest of the professor in each individual in the class.

4. Developing a Digital Marketing Strategy, Professor Nels Henderson (Extension)

Very qualified professor, who is also very successful privately in the industry, somewhat monotonous lessons, partly interactive, no final but marketing plan.

5. Strategic Business Development for the Global Marketplace, Professor Barry Schindelheim (Extension)

A lot of work for the final presentation, many quizzes and papers, no final, relatively dry, feasible course.

6. Business Strategy, Cynthia Benelli (Extension)

Very dry, very nice professor who tries to bring the course content closer to you with typical American examples, little workload, an extensive final paper, fair evaluation, relatively uninteresting course.

Tip: schedule your courses so that you have a long weekend for possible trips. When choosing extension courses, you should also note that the lectures usually take place in the evening and attendance is compulsory, so you should make sure that the lecture times are humane.

Accommodation search

You should try to find a flat share in the student town called Isla Vista (IV for short) directly at the university via the “UCSB HOUSING” group on Facebook. However, you have to be lucky and patiently search through the countless offers to find the needle in the haystack. You have to be mentally prepared beforehand that the hygiene standards in IV cannot keep up with those in Germany, which is why you should look for accommodation make sure to find reasonably clean accommodation. Despite the usually very high rent, the houses are often relatively run down from parties, generally very old and you have to get used to the idea of ​​sharing a room with people who have been relatively unknown up to now, since the rents for single rooms are usually exorbitantly high. In my opinion, this is also worth an experience that you will never have again in this form and, depending on the roommates, is really feasible for a short period of time and can also be fun.

Tip: You should facetime your potential future roommates beforehand in order to get to know them and their settings on many relevant topics.


There are many restaurants and cafes in IV that you should definitely try while you’re there. In addition, the cost of living in California is very high anyway, so it is often not much more expensive to eat out than to cook for yourself.

Recommended restaurants/cafes in IV: Caje, Bagel Café, Naan Stop, Freebirds, Poke Ceviche, Blenders, Jamba Juice

Fast food chains: In-n-out (very cheap), Shake Shack, Jack in the Box

Restaurants in Santa Barbara Downtown: Hibachi Steak House & Sushi Bar, Sandbar

Supermarkets: Trader Joes (comparatively cheap and fresh), Target, Albertsons, for comparatively expensive drugstore products such as toothpaste etc. Dollar Tree

Getting around: Since there are only a few and comparatively expensive shops in IV, I would recommend simply driving your roommates to the supermarkets mentioned above, as they usually have a car. If you don’t want to be so dependent, you can also use the bus free of charge. Otherwise, the bicycle or the skateboard is the most common means of transport in IV. Since the university borders directly on IV, this is not absolutely necessary, but recommended. Means of transport can be purchased in the Facebook group “UCSB Free and For Sale”buy them cheaply and sell them again at the end of your stay abroad. For trips, renting a car at Santa Barbara Airport is recommended, but for smaller trips it may be cheaper to take Flixbus or Greyhound (e.g. SB to LA is €5).

Popular destinations for weekend trips (or longer): LA, San Diego, San Francisco, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Hawaii, Mexico, Las Vegas, Malibu (a day trip will also do).

Of course, UCSB also lives up to its party reputation. If you would like to get an insight into the party culture of the university in advance, you should take a look at the @ucsbbarstool Instagram account. I’d say there really isn’t a place like IV in the world where it’s going crazy in that regard. Most of the parties take place on the street right on the Pacific called Del Playa Drive (DP for short) and are definitely worth seeing. The big parties are broken up by the police at 12, which is why many Americans start partying very early by German standards.

Tip: Do not walk around the street with open alcohol and do not sit on the curb, as this can have legal consequences.

Other tips

Although you naturally often come into contact with German exchange students in particular through the extension courses, and friendships develop quickly through the common culture, I would recommend that you strive for a good balance between friendships with Germans and Americans, which definitely proves to be a good thing can prove difficult. That’s why it’s highly recommended to live with Americans, because it’s quick and easy to make contacts with Americans that Germans wouldn’t otherwise have.

Of course, other exchange students are often the obvious choice for the weekend trips as a travel group, as they want to discover the state just like you.


In summary it can be said that I have not regretted my stay in Santa Barbara despite the immensely high costs and I really spent an unforgettable, exciting and instructive time in IV and you can broaden your horizons. I highly recommend UCSB to any future exchange student and wish you all a great stay in California.

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